Kinetic Friction

Summary: Two bodies in relative motion excite resistance when they come together. Two wills clashing create another kind of friction. Somewhere between animosity and arousal is the place where they meet.

 

Characters: Paris, Janeway, Chakotay, Kim, Stadi

Codes: Janeway/Paris

 

Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.

Warning: This story contains mentions of rape, prison trauma, post-traumatic stress syndrome and panic disorder.

Rated E

 ... and a fragile heart

 

She decides they’ll have soup to spare his recently healed jaw. Tom makes no objection to that, nor when she insists on ushering him to the table and letting her serve him. He’ll draw the line at spoon-feeding, he decides with an inward grin; the last thing he wants is for her to see him as helpless, or childlike.

But there seems to be no danger of that. She watches him throughout dinner, subtly, and with the same assessing gleam she wore that first night. When they’ve finished their soup, the captain rests her elbows on the table and lets her gaze linger on his mouth.

“How does it feel?”

Reflexively, Tom fingers his lip where Ivers had split it, then grins. “I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me how it feels?”

She laughs, and it emboldens him to order a bottle of wine from the replicator and guide her over to the couch, where he sprawls out next to her and watches her watching him.

“You’re not what I expected,” she says at last.

“Oh yeah? What were you expecting?”

Janeway sips her wine and crosses one leg over the other. “I’m not sure,” she shrugs. “I guess I was wondering what kind of man would start out as a privileged admiral’s son with the brightest of futures and end up …”

“… a lying, murdering drunk serving time for treason?”

“I’d have put it more tactfully, but essentially, yes.”

“Why mince words?” Tom asks bitterly. “And if that’s your opinion of me, Captain, why did you recruit me? Because I know it wasn’t for my uniquely valuable insights into Maquis tactics.”

He’s intrigued by the shadow that flickers across her expression. “Let’s just say that I’m not entirely unacquainted with the concept of falling from grace.”

Tom’s eyes narrow. “That why you slept with me?”

“Excuse me?”

“You like playing in the dirt as long as you can wash your hands of it afterward,” he accuses. “And I’m a safe bet all around. You do me a favour, I scratch your itch, and even if I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, who’d believe me?”

Janeway’s lips are parted in shock. “That’s not – Oh God, Tom, that’s not what I –” She scrambles to her feet. “I should go.”

Tom leaps up too, blocking her path to the door. “Tell me about the Al Batani,” he finds himself blurting, the words tumbling over each other. “Tell me what happened to my father.”

She stops trying to dodge him and bows her head, sighing. “I can’t do that.”

“Then tell me why you fu- why you slept with him.” He tries to catch her eye. “Why you had a love affair –”

“It wasn’t a love affair,” she says abruptly.

She turns away to stand at his viewport, arms wrapped around her body, and Tom moves closer, cautious, watching her reflection in the glass.

“Then what was it?” he asks, calmer now.

“I don’t know.” Janeway faces him. “Your father and I … we experienced something we’ll never have in common with anyone else. I can’t talk about it.”

“Because it’s too hard?”

“Because it’s classified,” she answers. “And yes, it’s hard. In some ways I don’t think I’ll ever recover from it, and I know your father won’t. Something like that tends to create a connection.” Her hand is on his chest, her eyes serious. “But it had nothing to do with love.”

Tom looks down at her and tries to imagine what she went through. What they went through. Then he stops trying to picture it.

“At least you weren’t alone,” he says, and takes her hand.

 

~*~


“He loves you, you know,” she says when he’s coaxed her to stay with apologies and offers of more wine, both of which he’s surprised she accepts.

This, though – this can’t pass unchallenged.

“Forgive me, Captain, but that’s bullshit.”

“It’s true,” she insists. “The way he talks about you … it’s clear he’s very proud. He thinks the world of you.”

“He has a strange way of showing it. And even if that was true once, it sure as hell isn’t true now.”

“Well,” she smiles faintly, “he’s a complicated man.”

Tom snorts. “I always thought he was pretty simple.”

And he’s officially done with talking about his father to this woman. This woman who’s become more to him than his father’s protégée, or his ticket to freedom.

“Do you dance?” he blurts.

“Excuse me?”

He ignores the amused lift of her eyebrow and jumps to his feet. “Computer, play music. Something fast. And loud.”

Some kind of racket he’s never heard before pounds through the room – something Bajoran, he guesses – and Tom plucks the wine glass from Janeway’s hand, shoving it onto a side table.

“Come on,” he shouts above the music. He lets the beat move through his body, lets his body move with it. “Dance with me.”

He catches her hand and tugs her to her feet.

“I don’t know how to dance to this,” she protests, half-laughing, but he wraps a hand around her waist and encourages her to half-shuffle, half-bounce with him.

He dances her through the room, dodging tables and chairs, spinning and dipping her until she’s laughing helplessly, cheeks flushed and hair tumbling out of its prim chignon. He stumbles into an armchair and rights them with a breathless apology; she bumps her elbow against the wall and squeaks in protest.

“Stop,” she calls at last, “Computer, mute the music!”

She tugs him to a halt in the archway that leads to his sleeping space. She has one hand still clasped in his, the other clutching at his uniform jacket. In the sudden silence, the only sound is their accelerated breathing.

He looks down at her, takes in her parted lips and the colour on her cheekbones, and dips his head to kiss her.

“Wait,” she says quickly, holding him off with a hand on his chest. “If we do this, there are rules –”

“I know,” he interrupts. “No strings, no questions.”

“Yes. But most of all, no misunderstandings,” she answers. “You implied earlier that I’d propositioned you to exact my pound of flesh for getting you out of that rehab colony. That was wrong, and frankly, it was insulting.”

Tom looks away, shame-faced. “I didn’t mean it.”

“Good. Because that’s not why I fucked you.”

His eyes widen.

“Got your attention, didn’t I?” Janeway smirks. “Then listen. I didn’t fuck you for nostalgia or for payback or because I thought you owed me something. You owe me nothing but your honest best on this mission, and when the mission is over –”

“– we go our separate ways,” Tom finishes. “I understand.”

He raises her hand to his lips, and she tenses, holding her breath.

“This is a bad idea,” she mutters. “I should go …”

“Kathryn.” He presses his lips to her fingers, then to her palm, then the inside of her wrist, and her diffidence begins to melt into a different kind of tension. Tom’s other hand alights on her hip, the faintest of pressure guiding her closer. “Stay.”

© 2021 by Mia Cooper